The Kursk submarine is an integral part of the I, Putin story. On August 12, 2000 two explosions blasted through the Russian, nuclear submarine, the Kursk. It was carrying 118 submariners and boasted of an escape pod that would take 115 of these sailors to the safety of the surface in case of an unexpected occurrence. When the two blasts happened, the sub began its descent to the bottom of the ocean with 23 sailors still alive and huddled in the ninth compartment. The Kursk submarine disaster sparked an enraged reaction of the Russian people and the Russian media. Both spoke out publicly against newly elected President Vladimir Putin for not reacting to this crisis for four and a half days. This period of silence was common for Russian leaders, as Gorbachev had remained silent for the first 18 days of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. However, this was the new Russia–not the Soviet Union–and the Russian people and media demanded a response from Putin.
In regard to I, Putin, I, the author, have kept very close to the timeline and events of the Kursk tragedy. My intention was and is to give respect and honor to the sailors, especially to Dima Kolesnikov and his family. Lt. Captain Kolesnikov is the reason we know that 23 sailors survived the blasts and died a slow, horrific death in the ninth compartment. He was a real person who wrote one letter informing the world of what really happened and another letter to his wife, Olga. Dima Kolesnikov was a hero, not only for serving his country with honor and bravery, but for overcoming his demons, as you will see in the novel.
I am always puzzled as to why Russian political experts never discuss the Kursk tragedy when discussing Putin. To me, it is his pivotal moment in power, when the world saw the real Vladimir Putin for the first time. It is the Putin we see today.